Tag Archives: Baltimore

In miniature, November 22

  • The week in blame-shifting: Baltimore files lawsuit against tobacco companies seeking to recoup the cost of dealing with cigarette butt litter [CBS News]
  • A lot of people warned at the time that Maryland’s first-in-the-nation digital ad tax was unconstitutionally drawn, and now Judge Alison Asti has struck it down [Callan Tansill-Suddath, DCist; an earlier instance in which courts struck down a media law after the General Assembly ignored warnings of likely unconstitutionality]
  • Montgomery County will make a costly mistake if it goes forward with plans to ban most gas hookups in new buildings [Adam Pagnucco, Montgomery Perspective, more]
  • To my list of favorite Maryland place names I can now add Tippity Wichity Island in St. Mary’s County [Baltimore Banner, more, it’s for sale]
  • Frederick Magazine profiles Landmarks Foundation of Frederick County, which just had its biggest attendance ever for Oktoberfest at Schifferstadt [Kate Poindexter]
  • Baltimore needs to change, part 783: Bridgeport, Newark, Detroit, and Baltimore in that order are the cities that place the highest tax burdens on households, and that’s true both at $75K and $150K/year household income levels. Among the lowest: Las Vegas, Houston, Jacksonville, Fla. and Manchester, N.H. [Chris Edwards, Cato]

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Baltimore intends to remain Squeegee City

In Baltimore, aggressive squeegee kids have been a presence in downtown traffic for years. Now, as, Capital News Service reports, the city unveils a plan to 1) ask them to stay out of certain densely driven corridors, 2) pay some of them to change the way they spend their time, and 3) issue fines to drivers who tip them. Newly elected Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates took part in the team that drew up the plan but has also offered a more straightforward analysis of the situation: what the kids do is already an unlawful interference with traffic.

Gov. Larry Hogan has long criticized the city’s non-enforcement policies, saying in July, “It certainly has had a major impact on people being afraid to come to the city because they’ve been harassed for years and years.” But much of the city’s active political class disagrees with him, dismissing as anecdotal or subjective the accounts of drivers, female and elderly especially, who say they have felt intimidated or coerced to give money during the exchanges.

Sometimes it appears being “made to feel unsafe” isn’t such a big deal after all.

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In miniature, October 1

  • Enjoyed joining Sen. Cheryl Kagan [D-Gaithersburg] on her podcast. We explored election law topics, including ranked choice voting which we both favor (21:30+). But also included throughout are many questions I’ve never gotten asked elsewhere, which gives it a more personal flavor than with many other podcasts [“Kibbitzing with Kagan”]
  • Running through October 30 at Maryland Ensemble Theatre: THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT, terrific Broadway play about (yes) fact checking. We were lucky enough to have playwright and old friend Jeremy Kareken to Frederick to discuss it. MET put on a boffo performance, get tickets here: https://ci.ovationtix.com/35900/production/1128353
  • What fun to go to both MML and MaCo conferences in Ocean City this summer! And I hope to be back as part of a program one of these times.
  • The Libertarian Party has taken an unpleasant turn nationally, yet in Maryland they’ve nominated an unusually credible candidate for governor. David Lashar has a strong background in public administration, having served in a responsible role in the Hogan health department, and mutual friends attest to his talent and good character. Dilemmas! [Brian Griffiths, The Duckpin]
  • Stephen Walters on Baltimore: “It’s easy to dismiss stories about threatening behavior by squeegee ‘workers’ as isolated incidents. But they’re real, they’re common, and they do, in today’s parlance, make people feel unsafe.” [City Journal]
  • I’m Unaffiliated now myself: “The Maryland Republican Party got together and committed ritualized mass suicide. The only thing missing was Jim Jones and a glass of Kool-Aid. I hope it was a good party.” [Doug Mayer quoted by Pamela Wood]

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In miniature, January 29

  • I’m honored to have joined the board of the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation, one of my favorite local organizations, which maintains historic buildings such as Schifferstadt and runs the wonderful annual Barnstormers Tour.
  • Howard Gorrell: More hypocrisy on Maryland redistricting [Maryland Reporter] LRAC’s legislative maps, unlike MCRC’s, split the city of Gaithersburg. Might that decision be vulnerable to a legal challenge? [David Lublin, The Seventh State] To help pry open the closed shop that is Maryland politics, try open primaries [Colin Alter, same]
  • Reminder: Del. Dan Cox’s many baseless election-theft claims include insinuations of “rampant” poll fraud in four GOP-heavy Maryland counties that did not return the sort of margins for Trump he expected a year ago: Frederick, Carroll, Anne Arundel, and Harford. [Brian Griffiths, The Duckpin] Numbers on county shifts here; note that while these four suburban counties all swung hard against Trump (10-13 points), as did more Democratic suburban jurisdictions like Howard (10) and Baltimore County (11), many counties that are partially suburban in character swung a lot too, such as Calvert and Talbot with 11-point swings, Washington 9, Wicomico and St. Mary’s with 8, and Queen Anne’s with 7.
  • The redistricting season has now wrapped up with the legislature choosing gerrymanders over our commission’s fair maps for both Congressional and legislative elections. Some clips: Henry Olsen/Washington Post, WTOP, Star-Democrat (Easton). And I’m quoted in this Frederick News-Post piece by Jack Hogan on the implications of the legislative maps for Frederick County.
  • Maryland ranks near the cellar in business tax climate and Andrew Macloughlin of the Free State Foundation explains why. [Maryland Reporter]

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Marilyn Mosby files FCC complaint against broadcast criticism

Marilyn Mosby, State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, doesn’t like the many critical and investigative stories that WBFF Baltimore has run about her and just sent an astonishing letter to the Federal Communications Commission demanding that its “coverage [be] curtailed and ceased.”  Mosby’s letter really must be seen to be believed: it openly seeks to intimidate and chill speech protected by the First Amendment.

Notes UCLA lawprof and leading free speech law expert Eugene Volokh writes: “I note that none of the letter’s claims of ‘distortion’ are supported by any actual explanation of why the stories are supposedly inconsistent with the facts.” After examining and dismissing as unactionable other charges raised in the Mosby letter, including invasion of her privacy, he adds: “certainly critical news coverage, whether of prosecutors, police officers, or anyone else, can’t be suppressed on the grounds that some tiny fraction of the audience may be so angered by it that they will commit crimes against the people being criticized. I expect the FCC to (rightly) dismiss the complaint.”

It seems to me that Mosby’s letter should be met by a united front of condemnation among free speech advocates, media people (in Maryland especially), and those who track D.A. misconduct. Prosecutors must not be allowed to chill and suppress critical journalism about their doings.

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In miniature, May 29

  • My law blog Overlawyered ceases publication this weekend after nearly 21 years, you can read its Maryland archives here;
  • How about “no.” Does “no” work for you? “Baltimore Wants To Sue Gun Makers Over Gang Violence” [Cam Edwards, Bearing Arms]
  • The environmental group fretted that suspending the bag tax will leave “the public with a false sense of security in encouraging single-use plastic shopping bags” which “are difficult to clean.” Yo, Sierra Club! That’s why they’re called “single-use” bags [Jim Bovard, American Conservative; Josh Kurtz, Maryland Matters]
  • Precinct-level reporting, confidentiality, ballots returned without signatures: the details of vote-by-mail (VBM) Maryland still needs to work out [Cheryl Kagan, Howard Lee Gorrell]
  • Some good ideas in here for your county or municipality, too: “D.C., Maryland Jurisdictions Start Deferring Taxes, Fees and Regulations” [Adam Pagnucco, The Seventh State]
  • Montgomery County development politics analyzed along the lines of the classic Bootleggers and Baptists model [Arnold Kling]

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In miniature, October 19

  • Federal judge rejects four states’ suit challenging Congress’s changes to the SALT (state and local tax) exemption. Maryland AG Brian Frosh wasted the state’s resources and credibility on a suit that should never have been filed [Ilya Somin]
  • While on the subject, it’s worth noting how the state’s drug pricing law went down in flames, although the blame for its indefensibility would in this case be the legislature’s [Josh Kurtz, Maryland Matters]
  • Campaign to raise legal age of marriage to as high as 18 belatedly runs into some serious opposition as ACLU, other liberal groups concerned with youth rights and autonomy join conservatives skeptical of forcing out-of-wedlock births and libertarians who support, well, liberty [Dartunorro Clark, MSNBC] Due credit to the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, which helped block a bad bill of this sort in the 2018 Assembly, pointing out that there are other ways to detect and intervene against involuntary marriages [Scott Dance, Baltimore Sun; an opposing view (i.e., favoring ban) from UMD sociologist Philip Cohen]
  • Yuripzy Morgan took time on her WBAL radio show to discuss my article on the Supreme Court’s consideration of job bias law and you can listen here;
  • Stephen J.K. Walters makes a case for aerial surveillance as a Baltimore policing tool [Law and Liberty] In 2016 my colleague Matthew Feeney expressed libertarian misgivings about the “secret and indiscriminate surveillance” such systems enable;
  • “Maryland’s State Pension May Be Only 35 Percent Funded” [Carol Park, Maryland Public Policy Institute]

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Baltimore begins nullifying nearly 800 bad-cop convictions

Baltimore continues to pay a high price for the sorts of police corruption and misconduct on display in the Gun Trace Task Force scandal. Part of that price is that convictions need to be thrown out, even in cases where a real crime may have been committed and not all the evidence was tainted. From the Sun:

“When you have sworn police officers involved in egregious and long-standing criminal activity such as planting guns and drugs, stealing drugs and money, selling drugs, making illegal arrests, and bringing false charges, our legal and ethical obligation in the pursuit of justice leaves us no other recourse but to ‘right the wrongs’ of unjust convictions associated with corrupt police officers,” Mosby wrote in an email.

And if you think maybe we could get fuller disclosure of police disciplinary proceedings so that problems might be headed off before they reach the stage of massive scandal, well, good luck with that.

More from the Abell Foundation: “Baltimore Police Department: Understanding its status as a state agency”:

The Baltimore Police Department became a State Agency 158 years ago in response to the rise of the Know-Nothing Party in Baltimore City. By 1860, the Know-Nothing Party had taken complete political control of Baltimore City, relying on violence and coercion. The Maryland General Assembly reached the conclusion that the City and Mayor had proven themselves incapable of maintaining order in the City of Baltimore and accordingly enacted Public Local Laws making the Baltimore Police Department a State Agency.

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In miniature, August 26

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Baltimore’s high tax rates

Baltimore is a city with really high tax rates, much higher than those in most of the cities it competes with. “What are city officials doing with all that money?” asks my Cato colleague Chris Edwards. Accompanying graphic:

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